Sunday, April 17, 2016

Easter 5 C (April 24): Belonging/God is in the Neighbourhood/God Plays No Favourites



Bible Readings: Acts 11:1-18, Psalm 148, Revelation 21:1-6, John 13: 31-35.

About the Images:
Upper Left: This is a Microsoft free clipart onto which I placed the text.
Upper Right: I love this image - it shows that we all belong to God's family. This is a free clipart image from a lovely little site ( which puts images up each week to match with the lectionary readings. Now and again I get a tad lost on the site because most of the text is in Spanish. It is worth the effort though because the images are excellent. I have also listed this site in my links section (see left).
Lower Left: This is a free clipart from the Heartlight site (see my links column at the left).
Lower Right: This image comes from the awesome Church Galleries website which was decimated by hackers last year. At present it is possible to buy these images very cheaply - however this particular one is free on the site this week.  Well worth the subscription!!! Visit the website at

During the Service:
I have done this at scattered intervals throughout a service one family or person at a time: Ask a number of families (include a single person, a single parent family, a nuclear family, a married couple with no kids, an empty nest family etc etc) the following questions:
1. Describe your family situation
2. What does belonging to the church mean to you?
3. Why?

Listening Song: I've Always Loved You
By Third Day on their album, Time (pictured at right).

Kids: Love Unlimited
Found in Fun Group Devotions for Children;s Ministry by various authors, Group Publishing, 1993, ISBN 1559451610, page 18 (pictured at left). This goes really well with the gospel reading.

Film Clip: Tuesdays With Morrie
c. Touchstone 1999 (pictured at left). A great discussion on love starts around 1 hr 10 mins in and goes for approximately 2 minutes or about half way through this clip:

Discussion Questions: Tuesday with Morrie
1. How would you define love?
2. What does belonging mean to you?
3. What do you think Morrie means when he says: "We must love one another or die"

Film Clip: Life Vest Kindness

 Drama: Love One Another
Found in Mega Drama 1 by Verena Johnson. Open Book, 2001, ISBN 085910915, page 32, (pictured at left). This drama goes well with the gospel reading. 

Drama: What is Heaven?
Project or display a very traditional picture of heaven - fat angels, clouds, harps etc.
1: Is that heaven?
2: Is what heaven?
1: You know - like in that picture? Angels, harps, clouds?
2: Well, good question! Nobody really knows where it actually is?

1: So is it up in the sky?
2: Dunno really. I just know heaven is wherever God is.
1: Oh,so what do we do in heaven? Play harps and stuff?
2: Hmmm. Hard to say. I do know we'll be worshipping God.
1: Oh, so it will be like church!!!
2: Ummm, maybe.
1: So we're just going to be sitting around and praying?
2: Ummm, I think the Bible mentions that we'll get a chance to rest too.
1: Resting for eternity!!! Isn't that going to get a bit boring?
2: Well......we might do other stuff as well. I think the Bible talks about serving God too.
1: Heaven after you die isn't sounding too crash hot at the moment.
2: Well, I'm not explaining it very well. I know I have read that there is a big FUN component built in .......and anyway, who said anything about heaven after you die - what if it is going on right now.
1: What HAVE you been drinking
2: I haven't been drinking anything - but I have been reading! Listen to this.....

Then get No. 2 to read the Revelation reading.

NB: Not sure where I got this - pretty sure , by the language, that it is mine; but I stand to be corrected. 

Story: Love
Story 393 in 750 Engaging Illustrations for Preachers, Teachers and Writers by Craig Brian Larson and Leadership Journal, Baker Books, 2002, ISBN 0801091551, (pictured at right).

Story: When Do I Die
Found in Hot Illustrations for Youth Talks by Wayne Rice, Youth Specialties, 1994, ISBN 0310402611, page 223 (pictured at left). This is a poignant illustration of love and sacrifice.

Story: Are You God?
Found in More Hot Illustrations for Youth Talks by Wayne Rice, Zondervan, 1995, ISBN 0310207681, page 36 (pictured in an earlier blog). This illustration goes well with the gospel reading.

Who are the Cornelius's in our lives?
Who are the people missing from our church because we have not encouraged them in.
What are we going to do about it?
What does it mean for us to love people unconditionally?

Response Activity: Thank you For Being the Family We Choose to Have.
Have a new photo album ready and print off a variety of frames with blank middles - enough for everyone to have one. Encourage people to draw, in their frame, the people who mean a lot to them, whether family or friends. Play meditative music while this is going on. At the conclusion of the activity put the drawings in the photo album. The kids love this job while the adults sing.

Response Activity: Candles
Dim the lighting. Give everyone a small thin candle and a one centimetre cube of self hardening clay. Play some meditative music. Ask people to think about the question:
What does it mean for me to love people the way Jesus did, unconditionally? While they are thinking, encourage them to make a candle stand with their clay. Ask a few to come out and light their candle from the Christ candle and then share the flame around until everyone has a lit candle in front of them. Point out how the light is similar to God's love - it is spread by sharing. This adult activity is adapted from the kid's activity, Love Unlimited (above)

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